Can I Give My Dog Cabbage?
Even though it does not get as much love as carrots, broccoli, or even spinach, most of us love to eat cabbage semi-regularly. We cook it into soups. We throw it raw into salads and sandwiches. Some of us diehard cabbage fans cut it into wedges, smother it in olive oil, and roast it until it’s delightfully crispy. Whether you consider yourself a cabbage devotee or a casual snacker, you probably find this vegetable in your crisper at least semi-regularly. If you have a pet, everything that winds up in your refrigerator prompts the same question: can my dog have cabbages?
So, can dogs eat cabbage? Yes, in moderation, they can. Some of our favorite healthy vegetables are poisonous for our pets, but there is no evidence that cabbage falls in this category. If you catch your Kindergartener slipping cabbage to your canine companion at the dinner table, there is no need for a late-night trip to the animal hospital.
Health Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Cabbages
If the cabbage in question isn’t smothered in oil or another fatty flavoring, your six-year-old may even be doing Fido a favor! While not as brightly colored or inspiring as many of today’s trendy superfoods, cabbage is actually a very healthy vegetable. It’s chock full of antioxidants, which act as bodyguards for your dog’s cells—they actually neutralize harmful metabolic waste products called free radicals, which can cause cell damage if left to their own devices.
Not all cell damage causes problems (after all, all body cells are programmed to die after a certain period of time). Things really go wrong when a cell’s DNA is altered in a way that does not immediately kill it. This cell may then be able to pass on its harmful mutation, which can eventually lead to chronic or life-threatening disease. Damage caused by free radicals has even been implicated in the development and spread of certain cancers. Feeding your dog cabbage certainly isn’t going to prevent or cure cancer, but it can help lower your dog’s risk of ever developing the disease.
Like most vegetables, cabbage is also loaded with dietary fiber. Fiber has been associated with many health benefits, but the most immediately noticeable benefits are digestive in nature. Dietary fiber is not actually a nutrient—it’s the indigestible parts of plant foods.
Soluble fiber, which soaks up water, can help treat both constipation and diarrhea by regulating the amount of water in the colon. It can absorb extra water sitting in the intestines, which will help alleviate loose or watery stools. It can also aid in combatting constipation by absorbing water in the stomach and then introducing it into the colon, which will make for softer, fuller bowel movements. Fiber will also add bulk to stool, which will speed its transit time through the body.
Cabbage is also an excellent weight loss food. Because it is high in indigestible fiber and low in calories, it can fill up a lot of space in your furry friend’s stomach without contributing a whole lot of energy. Fiber itself is essentially a zero calorie food—it will give your dog the pleasure of having something to crunch on, and it will give them the sensation of having a full stomach, but it will not actually provide any energy. If your veterinarian has recommended you put your dog on a calorie-restricted diet, replacing some of their usual snacks with high-fiber vegetables such as cabbage can be a great way to reduce their caloric intake without actually decreasing the amount of food they get to eat. That way your dog can get healthy without having to deal with feeling hungry or deprived!
If you want to feed your dog cabbage, there are two important things to remember. Firstly, cabbage is known to cause gas, which can be extremely uncomfortable for dogs. Introduce this food into their diet slowly and do not continue to feed it to them if they seem to struggle with gas or bloating.
This vegetable also contains a compound known as thiocyanate, which can suppress function of the thyroid gland if consumed in excess. While eating too much cabbage is unlikely to cause hypothyroidism, it may exacerbate the condition if it is fed to dogs in large quantities. Dogs who already have thyroid problems should not eat foods containing thiocyanate, like cabbage or broccoli.
Things to Consider
If you want to give your dog cabbage regularly, you can deactivate thiocyanate by cooking. Cooking cabbage can also make it easier for your dog to digest, which will reduce their risk of severe gas, bloating, or other digestive issues.
In conclusion, cabbage is a healthy vegetable to give to your dog in moderation. It is high in antioxidants and fiber, yet low in calories. Cabbage may help reduce your dog’s risk of developing chronic diseases, ease weight loss, and regulate digestion. As long as your dog does not have a thyroid condition, feel free to feed them cabbage!